Biologists and biomedical scientists are highly skilled individuals. They work alongside doctors and healthcare professionals in medical or research labs, and must be competent in a variety of scientific techniques and methods.
Sample preparation and analysis might look easy to the outsider but any scientist knows how difficult it can be. Properly handling samples requires you to have a steady hand and an eye for detail.
Even with the vast array of machinery that has been invented to help scientists perform their daily tasks, lab workers still need to be qualified and talented to correctly organize, prepare, and analyze samples.
Every lab task involves an advanced skill set, whether it involves using a high-tech piece of equipment or pipetting small and precise amounts of a sample into a petri dish. Some techniques are less common than others but there are several tasks that laboratory staff will complete every day.
Here are three of the most common biological techniques and methods that you’ll need to know if you want to work in a medical or research laboratory.
- Incubation and Freezing Samples
Biological samples need to be stored at specific temperatures. Depending on the type of sample that you’re working with, you might need to use the incubator or freezer to store the sample at its optimal temperature.
When you’re dealing with live cell cultures or microorganisms, you will need to know how to store them to appropriately and which type of equipment to use. Organisms are temperature-sensitive and it’s your job to ensure they are happy.
Using an incubator can encourage cell growth, helping the organisms in your sample to thrive so you have more to work with in your analysis. Using the LN2 freezer will halt the growth of your sample and it will also prevent the growth of unwanted microbes, preventing contamination.
Most biological research and sample analysis involves pipetting. Whether you’re preparing chemical solutions to mix with your samples or you’re transferring a cell culture from one agar plate to another, you will need strong pipetting skills to work in a biology lab.
Pipetting the wrong amount of solution or the wrong cell culture can disrupt your analysis and may lead to errors in your resulting data. Pipetting is an easy technique to pick up and you will find that the more you practice, the better and more precise your pipetting will become.
When you need to break cells down into their constituent organelles and proteins, you will need to use centrifugation. A centrifuge is a piece of equipment that spins your samples around at high speeds to separate its components into separate parts according to density.
It’s important to set the centrifuge to the right speed setting so that it doesn’t destroy the sample but also separate the components properly. There are a few different types of centrifuge machines so you will need to learn how to use each one properly if your lab uses every type.
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